Unanchored Thoughts

Bits and pieces of musings about family, friends, social issues, and whatever else travels through my head without a purpose.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Learning to discipline

We've reached a point with Graeme where I think it is in his best interest (and ours) to introduce discipline into our lives. I knew this wouldn't be my strong suit. Not because I don't believe in it, I do. But, if my experience parenting Knox and Madison provides any foreshadowing, I don't discipline well. Before we adopted the cats we vowed to keep them off the furniture and forbid any scratching. Anyone who has been to our house knows that is not uncommon to have a cat wander across the table mid-meal or sit on the counter while we cook. And, they regularly ignore my pleas to stop eating the plants or to stop clawing the caned chairs.

Like much of our parenting style, we don't really subscribe to any one philosophy which means that I lack guidance beyond my own intuition when it comes to disciplining Graeme. I thought a simple "no" would do the trick (ah, the experienced parents laugh yet again at my naivete). So, when Graeme was gouging the wood floors by dragging the gate across them repeatedly I found myself saying "no" with more force and volume than seemed necessary. (He doesn't have a hearing problem, as far as we know.) It wasn't long before I was yelling, and realized that this just isn't working. Prying his hands off the gate and removing him from the situation brought on a meltdown of epic proportions and it then took 20 minutes to restore order. By then we were both exhausted, and irritated. This incident with a different trigger - sometimes it was hitting mama, sometimes it was throwing a toy across the room - has led me to the realization that we need to try something different. As of today, I've instituted the 1 minute policy. When Graeme is doing something he shouldn't then I remove him or the object for one minute. When he starts hitting me he must get off my lap for 1 minute. When he throws a toy, I remove it for 1 minute. I figure that 1 minute is an eternity for him (and me when he's crying) and with consistency it will hopefully provide a meaningful enough consequence that he will cease the offensive behavior.

How's it working? Well, I've used my new tool twice and he protested loudly both times, but then sort of seemed to move on. Who knows if this will work? Like all of parenting I'm sure it will be a series of trials and errors. I hope to be able to report out on my successes soon...and if not, when my voice is hoarse you'll know that I've reverted back to the old standby - yelling.


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